Scripture: But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. 2 Kings 25:12 ESV
Observation: The timeline of this chapter is the fall of Judah under the conquest of King Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of the Babylonian empire (597 BC). Judah’s King Zedekiah, ignoring Jeremiah’s prophecy to submit to Babylon under God’s just punishment, foolishly attempted to escape Jerusalem under siege, only to be captured, deported, witness the execution of his family, and have his eyes gouged out. Meanwhile, the captain of the Babylonian guard, Nebuzaradan, razed Jerusalem to the ground and took the few remaining Israelites of power and influence (priests, military officers, and advisers) to Nebuchadnezzar, who summarily slaughtered them. But Nebuzaradan left behind some of the poorest to tend the land (verse 12 above).
Takeaway: Verses like the above have greater significance than we sometimes realize. While conquering nations would leave the poor to inhabit the land because they would least likely rebel and be keen to improve their station in life (thus keeping the land productive), for Israel, Yahweh had accomplished a threefold plan of justice and restoration. First, God meted punishment to the wealthy for ignoring the poor and failing to uphold the Year of Jubilee. Secondly, he had restored the landholdings of the poor that the rich had refused to return to them. Lastly, leaving behind a remnant to cultivate the land ensured complete restoration when the Lord would bring Israel back from exile.
The takeaway? There are two, but overarching is God’s sovereignty. He metes justice against us (whether through allies or enemies) when we fail to act justly toward others. And he cares for all his creation: the fruit of the earth and the complete restoration of his chosen people (poor and prosperous alike).
Prayer: Father God, we thank you that you are sovereign over all your creation and ensure justice to the oppressor and restoration to the oppressed. Would you please help us to uphold your just laws and safeguard the wellbeing of your people and your land? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling